Programme Director: Minister Nomvula Mokonyane
The President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Mr Cyril Ramaphosa
The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers
The Secretary General of the ITU, Mr Zhao and all heads of regional and international organisations
The Acting Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Mr Sihle Zikalala
Honourable members of Parliament
Members of the Diplomatic Community
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honour for me, on behalf of MTN Group to welcome you to the ITU World Telecom and Exhibition Conference 2018. As MTN, we are very proud of our partnership with the Government of South Africa, to bring this conference to Africa for the first time. We are excited about the engagements that will take place here between governments, industry experts and other representatives from around the world; on the victories and challenges of the ICT sector. As proud citizens of Africa we are also excited to showcase the beautiful city of eThekwini, our beloved South Africa and the proud Africa that is home to so many of us.
MTN’s theme for this conference is “anything is possible when we are connected”. This stems from our company’s core belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern, connected life. Since my appointment as MTN Group CEO, I have been travelling to MTN’s different operations and I have been able to see the impact of mobile connectivity across our Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle-Eastern markets. I have also seen the real impact of mobile solutions, enabled by data, and how this is changing the lives of people across all of our markets.
According to the GSMA, the global mobile subscriber base is expected to increase by nearly one billion more users in the next few years, having surpassed the 5 billion connected people in 2017. However, despite significant mobile internet penetration growth in recent years, nearly 2 billion of the 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world do not benefit from connectivity (2017), i.e. they are unable to enjoy the social and economic opportunities of the internet. Great efforts are therefore needed to heed the call of organizations such as the ITU; to bridge the digital divide and foster a digital inclusive world.
We cannot tackle the challenge of bridging the digital divide without addressing barriers around coverage, affordability and access of handsets and services, and education of our users. This endeavor is too complex to be addressed solely by governments or just the operators or society. This needs to be a shared goal. We must ALL work together for connectivity.
I wish you all an insightful and rewarding conference.